Allergies are on the rise in Australia over the past 20 years, with three out of every 10 babies born each year now developing a food-related allergy or eczema by their first birthday.
OPTIMUM: OPTimising IMunisation Using Mixed schedules
The OPTIMUM Study is investigating if giving a dose of 'whole-cell' whooping cough vaccine at two months of age instead of the current 'acellular' whooping cough vaccine could help protect young children against allergy.
The whole-cell vaccine was used in Australia until 1999 and it is still used in the vast majority of the world. Both vaccines are safe and protect against whooping cough via training the immune system in different ways.
The study places the children into two groups and, at two months of age, one half of the children receive the whole-cell vaccine and the other half receive the acellular vaccine. All of the children then continue to receive their normal acellular vaccines at four and six months of age. The OPTIMUM study continues to follow the children for 19 months to assess any changes in their allergy status.
Director of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Disease, Dr Tom Snelling, with OPTIMUM study staff Christina Anthony and Glady Perez and participants from the Lee family.
The initial phase of this study is being run here in Perth involving 150 babies. We currently have 141 babies enrolled in the study and we hope to reach our recruitment target early next year.
The OPTIMUM study team is getting ready for a hectic 2020, as the National Health and Medical Research Council funded stage of this study will commence in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, aiming to involve up to 3000 babies over the next four years.